Some say “Loving yourself is the most important job of all“, and sometimes you simply have to treat yourself. I did just that with this terrific trio.
Yamazaki 1984/2004 Ob. ‘Vintage Malt’ Sherry butt 56% WB91.42
I remember the ‘dad noises’ that flew around the room when this was presented by Shinji Fukuyo of Suntory at the Three Masters masterclass back in 2016 – a masterclass where, for the first time ever, I lost my entire event’s notes. Incredibly, many people had left their samples almost completely untouched, allowing me to acquire a further sample for later retrospection. From memory this was the highlight of the 9 dram flight.
- N: Colour-wise it’s as dark as prune juice, whilst nose-wise there’s a soft integration/cohesion to the whole. Moving closer in, we’ve deep yet soft & saturated wood oils with sugary shoe polish, dried smoked meats [honeyed, lightly peppered], dusty icing sugar, a dusty vegetable stir-fry freshness, soot – dusty soot, more sweet smokey meats, leather bound [music] books slowly burning in the fire,…. That’ll do nicely.
- F: Rich yet relaxed, viscous yet flowing sweet woody honeyed/syrupy fruits with more shoe polish, ashy soot, malty sherried/syrupy candles,…
- T: …into a malty-savoury-sweet, soft-fresh, ashy sootiness, concluding with a smokey armagnac and a touch more ashy/sooty shoe polish – quite some repetition in there I know. Fairly bitter char notes and sherry tannins at the last with a few different fruits in various forms popping out from behind the curtain for the final bow. I’d be interested to know the ppm of this one.
- C: Intense and distinct whisky indeed. Whilst the cask and its char remain profile dominant, there remains an overall cohesion.
Scores 89 points
- N: First time I tried this rare malt I picked up lots of bacon Frazzles [blog]. Today I find it a touch smokey [in a Laphroaig=Caol Ila kind of way], with a malty-freshness, fusty malted barley,… aah, here comes the bacon – that didn’t take too long. I also get the loft insulation note I picked out before. Having spent some time in my loft in the last few days, there is something loft-y about it as well as something of a chimney – smokey bacon by the fireside then. Also some bergamot, dates, dried lemons, sweet grapefruit pith,…. At the core it displays deep smokey ash layers with foosty barley and fusty oak. Much like the Yamazaki, there’s a cohesion to the whole presentation with an experience that slips past descriptors & ingredients and to a realm more abstract & emotional – and I’m anything but open to emotion today. Herbal oaky sugars begin to develop more fully after around 30 minutes. Outshines the very decent Yamazaki by some margin.
- T: Starts with a huge & wide abv hit. Not much for the angels during those 31 years. Along with the concentrated sugars – all manner of fruits, teas & jams, the Islay-esque smokiness is never lost. I wonder if anyone would dare finish a Karuizawa in an Islay cask? Bit too late now anyway. Things are pretty much as ideal as you’d want from such a bold style of whisky. You can make it as complicated as you want or simply add water, sip and let it sit on the palate whilst enjoying the sightseeing. Deep permeated teak & oak furniture oils shine through on the turn, followed by a bitter fruity dark chocolate liqueur to die for.
- F: Appears to grow larger and larger as it goes on. Still with that smokey bacon note, we’ve malty/putty, waxy ashy sugars and something you may find in the occasional exceptional rum. The smokey oakiness pervades deep, the malted peated barley never too far away. Bitter-sweet smokey embers conclude.
- C: I reckon a bottle would last a while, given how full-on it is – even more so that the Yamazaki. I wonder how many of the 50 bottles will be opened and savoured? At time of writing, 14 of those 50 bottles are claimed by 8 Whiskybase members and some have appeared at festivals – giving people like myself the pleasure. Happily sticking with my previous super high score of 93.
Scores 93 points
- The rye comes from the cellar of billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife, a descendent of banker Andrew Mellon who owned a share in Old Overholt distillery.
- Founded in 1810, Old Overholt was originally distilled in Broad Ford Pennsylvania and was popular with the US navy during World War II.
- The whiskey is named after farmer Abraham Overholt, grandfather of American industrialist Henry Clay Frick.
- Today the brand is owned by Beam Suntory and produced at the Jim Beam distillery in Kentucky.
- N: Let’s see today if this beauty lives up to my previous experience of it [blog93], one of my all-time whisky highlights – a true test after that amazing Karuizawa. The first unmistakable note and something I didnt pick up last time is dill, waxy paraffin dill – though this amazing old juice changes & develops all the time just as it did before. It can’t decide whether it’s calling the decorators or a baker, paints or pastries? Either way, the banana candy is back albeit with the dill [kind of works, possibly enough for the cookbook], sage, herbal teas [nettle, comfrey, raspberry leaf], lemon grass,… Much like before, there’s stuff I haven’t got the vocabulary or experience to name, exotic herbs and spices I’m yet to add to my repertoire – plenty of ‘off the charts’ stuff.
- T: That’s simply very fine bourbon beautifully preserved. Today the dill is still ever present with old waxy banana candy, some emulsion, turpentine, menthol/peppermint, mango [Amchoor] powder, many liqueurs, a handful of wax capacitors and a myriad of smells unique to the late 1800’s/early 1900’s.
- F: Dried mint>falernum on the turn, wax candles, fennel & propolis toothpaste, runny toffee, rosehip tea, more lemon grass and many Thai-based spices – chilli heat=aromatics. Then there’s the dried edible flowers, which again, I’m lacking the vocabulary for.
- C: This second sample ‘changed’, but I had kept it for more than a year. It remains however utterly fantastic and somehow more intriguing/mysterious than the Karuizawa, though both are equally as stunning in their different ways.
Scores 93 points